“Although Nate Parker has called The Birth of a Nation ‘a black Braveheart,’ his rough-hewn directorial debut is less a traditional awards movie than Ava DuVernay‘s Selma from 2014, or even the Philadelphia-shot Creed from last year. The movie’s substantial power is lessened by significant lapses in judgment — the glowing figures who appear to Turner in religious visions tilt perilously close to kitsch — and the movie’s failure to delineate characters beyond Turner and his white owner (The Social Network‘s Armie Hammer) lessens its dramatic scope.

“But when Parker fills the screen with the faces of young slaves, framed so tightly that their 19th-century clothing drops out of sight, you’re no longer watching a period piece or dead history, but looking at the faces of young black men in 2016, demanding their humanity be fully recognized. It’s far from a perfect film, but it fills an aching need in society and the movie industry both, and should find a substantial audience waiting for it in the fall.” — from “Six Sundance Movies To Pay Attention To,” a Philly.com piece by Sam Adams.